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Putin Says Gays Welcome In Sochi, But Defends Controversial Law

Russin President Vladimir Putin (file photo)
Russin President Vladimir Putin (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered new assurances to gay athletes and fans attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics next month.

However, in his interview with foreign television channels broadcast on January 19, Putin equated gays with pedophiles and defended Russia's law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" among minors.

Putin accused the United States of double standards in its criticism of Russia, pointing to laws that remain on the books in some U.S. states classifying gay sex as a crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2003 that such laws were unconstitutional.

The Russian law adopted in June sparked international criticism.

Some activists called for a boycott of the Olympics to protest the law, which they say is used to persecute homosexuals.

The Sochi Olympics takes place from February 7 to 23.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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